Privacy Group Wants To Put The Brakes on Google’s Driverless Cars

Thu, May 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Security needs to be stepped up a gear

    A privacy group wants to put the brakes on Google’s driverless cars, demanding that they shouldn’t be allowed on the road until privacy legislation has been put into place.

    Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, is demanding that the technology is incorporated into a bill, SB 1289, which would see proper legislation around this technology, put into place to protect people.

    It said without this legislation, Google’s vehicles would be able to gather “unprecedented amounts of information about the use of those vehicles” with no documentation on how this would be used in the future.

    The call to amend or block the bill, SB 1298, came in a letter to Assembly Speaker John A. Perez from Jamie Court, Consumer Watchdog President and John M. Simpson, the group’s Privacy Project Director.

    “Consumers enthusiastically adopted the new technology of the internet,” they wrote. “What we were not told was that our use of the information superhighway would be monitored and tracked in order to personalise corporate marketing and make Google a fortune.”

    The group said that now Google was taking to the roads, it had to move to prevent the inappropriate collection and storage of data about people’s personal movements and environment.

    Although it’s already had a small victory with the California Senate passing the SB 1298 unanimously, the group said it was now under consideration by the Assembly.

    Although Google claims that it is its “mission is to organise the world’s information and make it accessible,” the group pointed out its operational plans are “a black box”.

    “We believe Google’s actions demonstrate

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    that it cannot be taken at its word,” the letter said, citing the wi-fi spying scandal.

    Although driverless technology was not yet commercially viable, the group was certain that it will be available sooner than most of us expect.

    It said that the SB 1298 bill endorsed Google’s driverless technology and allowed its fleet of automatic cars to travel on California’s roads. However, it provided no privacy protection for the users of the coming technology.

    It added: “The bill should be amended to ban all data collection by autonomous cars. While we don’t propose to limit the ability of the cars to function by communicating as necessary with satellites and other devices, the collection and retention of data for marketing and other purposes should be banned. Unless the bill is amended, once again society will be forced to play catch-up in dealing with the impact of the privacy invading aspects of a new technology.”

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